So not a fan of foot binding... ouch!
Based on the best-selling novel by Lisa See this beautiful story tells of powerful sisterhoods forged by heartbreaking circumstances and the tragic trials of life. Sworn sisters, Lily and Snow Flower, tell their inspiring story through a secret language written on a white silk fan. Their story is intertwined with a parallel modern day version of Snow Flower’s descendants in Shanghai struggling with their own bond of sisterhood, love, and tragedy.
I read this book for book club a while back and when I saw it was made into a film I was ridiculously excited. The book was an inspirational phenomenon. I can’t remember when I had loved a book as much. So, to say the least this film had huge shoes to fill.
Wayne Wang, also director of The Joy Luck Club, shot this film in a very interesting fashion. There are three different types of shots. First off there is the modern day parallel story in Shanghai shot in movement and darker colorations to portray the dark emotional troubles of the characters. Second, there are the period shots where the camera never actually moves. I believe this had to do with the location in which they were filming, but none the less it was incredibly interesting. The still frame shots were almost as it you were seeing a picture come to life. The colorations were very bold and vibrate. They were in complete contrast with the modern day story’s colorations. These were by far my favorite scenes. The story was just more interesting and emotional. Lastly, there were the scenes from the 90’s of the modern characters’ past. They were shot as if in a haze. There was a very soft lighting effect and dream like quality to it. Once again it was very nicely filmed. The filming was incredibly artistic and beautiful. I loved the different effects each time period possessed.
I really enjoyed the way the film was shot, but the way the story was portrayed was very lacking. There is an excellent chance you would have been incredibly confused as to what was going on if you had not read the book beforehand. There were huge gaps in the story which lead to confusion and loss of emotion. The constant jump from past to present was very annoying and distracting. The film would have made an absolutely wonderful period film, but Wang was not interested in doing a period film, he was after something different. I’m just afraid this was a little too different. As emotional as this production was it just wasn’t on par with my expectations.
I had gone into the film hoping for a more direct type of storytelling. Unfortunately that is not the style of this film. It seems to be more abstract and pieced together with a rather odd flow. The pace was a little slow, but not so much that you lose interest. What made you lose interest were the modern day parts. I just really can’t complain enough about them. They ruined the film for me. Some may say it targets a larger viewing audience, but I feel the true nature of the book should have been highlighted more extravagantly.
The Sworn Sisterhood of the Secret Fan
This is ‘An in-depth documentary covering the filmmakers’ journey including interviews with director Wayne Wang, producers Wendi Murdoch and Florence Sloan, and novelist Lisa See.’
I really enjoyed this documentary. It was roughly a half hour long and incredibly interesting. Lisa See spends a lot of time talking of her research travels which lead to the writing of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Wayne Wang talks a great deal about his filming style and why he filmed the way he did. The interviews with the cast were quite interesting. Apparently everyone on the set spoke different languages so it took a great deal of effort for them to learn English and Mandarin quickly and to communicate properly on set. I found it all very interesting.